Wednesday, July 23

Innovate or die!

The dust is beginning to settle. Developers, critics and consumers all have a pretty good idea of what's on offer. Well they should. So what's next?

I like me some innovation. I'm not ashamed to admit that I bought Lair just so that I could see what a game built around the Sixaxis controls would actually play like. Lost Odyssey, on the other hand, used to be the kind of game that interested me - I discovered as I played it that I'd changed, I'm different, that it's not you - Lost Odyssey - it's me. Goodbye, I won't miss you.

There's this interview with Microsoft somebody John Schappert here. Apart from demonstrating that Phil Elliot - the interviewer - is a kiss-arse, John goes on to say that true innovation can be imitation with a few tweaks (my phrasing, not his). Nice. He admits that they're playing copycat with a few things. Honesty, refreshing! And more or less says that it's not just about the games, to support this the Live service gets a good go around, largely through leading questions though. To be a little more fair, some of the ideas have potential, and while they aren't original a 1 vs 100 game with real prizes might entice new markets, for instance.

Nintendo is reeling from a universally negative response to their E3 presentation, even going so far to apologise! The panning they've received spares me that responsibility. Sniff. The reason they got so badly panned is because their big announcement was an add for their Wii-mote that allows for true 1:1 motion sensing. Nice! Problem is it only has the support of one soon to be released first party game. It was news to third party devs too, meaning it's not going to get third party support in software until a year or two from now because they will only be able to add it to games from now on. Not that anyone gives a shit because who buys third party shovelware on the Wii anyway? Provoke, provoke.

And then there's Sony. How can you not like a game of capture the flag, for up to 16 players, where the flag is a princess that can be fed cake? Even the name is awesome! Oh, how I hate that word. Another case of imitation tweaks. Still, the concept and execution is fun - if lacking longevity. The game? Fat Princess! Flower, a weird game, is much closer to something I would call innovation. The player is the wind blowing petals across the landscape opening flowers as they er…blow on their way. No fucking idea on how it plays (for real) or whether it'll be fun but it certainly feels like a fresh, new, innovative concept. LittleBigPlanet? On paper it's more tweaked imitation, but video of it has a fresh feeling. It's a HD version of a 2D platformer where the player can build their own levels and play with up to four others. I don't get any vibe of innovation from these words (which describe the game in a basic sense) but it looks like something that could, maybe, possibly deliver something unexpected. Sony has made such promises before though, and not delivered (Lair, Heavenly Sword). I couldn't care less about MAG, but then I'm not in its target market so that's to be expected.

Apart from demonstrating my like of Sony's penchant for quirky titles I have a point. Nintendo isn't doing anything really new in the coming while, but they don't really need to, they're #1 now, and the Wii-mote was enough, right? Microsoft seeks to tap the lowest common denominator by focusing on what they already know and offering real prizes. Woo! Sony hopes to capture new markets through a bunch of weird arsed shit that is risky and as previous titles have demonstrated, not necessarily worthwhile. If I was an industry pundit who would I reccommend you invest your hard earned dollars with?

Nintendo, of course, 'cause that shit is selling!

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